Nobuyuki Sakakibara

T his was our 30 th event and when I entered the stadium, I was reminded of PRIDE 1. The weather at that time was really great and today, the fall weather was sunny as we came to the stadium.
D espite reaching the number 30 mark in the PRIDE series 8 years later, neither the producers nor the fighters have been satisfied with what they have done at this event, and have found new topics for discussion. This event taught us a painful lesson about how difficult it is to have the best event, an event that will satisfy the fans and an event that will satisfy us above a certain level. There is a certain sense of accomplishment because this is a memorial event but we didn't have time to sit around thinking about that.
I would like to express my respect for Mirko for coming so well prepared for this fight after the mental and physical loss he experienced in his last fight. I believe that his win over a 10kg heavier Josh will be a good restarting point for him. The fans and the press have set a high hurdle for the main event and for Mirko. There are probably fans that wish they had went even harder at each other but I hope that they will look at kindly, and bear in mind that that was a Mirko doing his best following that August match. Now that Mirko has had a good restart, I'm certain he will do his best on New Year's Eve. I hope to decide on his New Year's participation soon, including who his opponent will be.
S aku went to train with Chute Boxe following his tragic loss to Arona and I think he was a little nervous. Saku has been a support and fundamental part in the creation of PRIDE but he seemed to be nervous today. Before the event, I said, "I want Saku to be in the main event," but he replied that he wanted me to give that idea up. After the fight though, he said that maybe he should have been in the main event. I'm happy that Saku won this fight. Although he hasn't said it directly, I think he will decide to fight on New Year's Eve. He said that after he rests for a little while, he's going to train with Chute Boxe again. I except that we will see even more progress in Saku's evolution.
T he Takimoto/Yoon fight had the kind of ground action that I expected of top-athletes and high-level judo players. Takimoto has been training in MMA for 1 year and Yoon for 6 months. Their striking has evolved and I can see potential in them. There was some booing after Takimoto took me the microphone but I think that just shows how much everyone expected. I hope that he will take that to heart so he will be able to live up to those expectations in the next fight.
I think the fans wanted to see more action for Kharitonov but the reason he wasn't able to was because Fabricio's ground skill can keep anyone from shining. Kharitonov still has some work to do before he becomes a contender for the Heavyweight belt. I want to put together a card on New Year's Eve where we will be able to see a different kind of fight.
Y oon and Zulu's fights showed us their potential but it's a shame that there was nothing that really called out to the fans. Although the Sentoryu (Henry Miller) fight may have made fans scratch their heads, that is the kind of think that can happen when you are judging a shoot fight. We will also look into this on our side. I want to discuss this with Sentoryu and find some way for him to accept, and understand, today's results.
N inja's fight was suiting for someone Chute Box and Chunkaiev did a lot to take the fight that far. I think Ninja will probably consider dropping a weight class.
Q uinton seems to be getting back his old charm and I think he will come back with an even more destructive aura next time.

Q &A with reporters
P ride Fighting Championships
: What's in the future for Josh?
N obuyuki Sakakibara,
: It's been one year since he was injured. He severely hurt his shoulder and it took time for him to recover. It was a long time since his last fight with Mirko. I think the difference between how much time they've spent in the ring showed. I know that he regrets not being able to do anything that he trained for but I want to give him another chance because I know he's not the kind of fighter that will stop here. I want him to come back to PRIDE.
P ride
: Sakuraba said that he wants to fight Tamura on New Year's Eve.
S akakibara
: I'd like to see that. He gave a good performance today so I'll go talk to him. Maybe the 3 rd time will be the charm. I'll put all of my strength into it but I don't have much confidence. (laughing). Sakuraba has been calling for him since February but realistically, there are some heavy feelings on Tamura's side. Sakuraba is ready now, so I'll try to keep from letting it slip away this year.
P ride
: What kind of card will you have for the New Year's Eve show?
S akakibara
: For foreign fighters, I believe that Mirko, Fedor, Silva, Shogun, Hunt and Kharitonov will definitely fight. And, Nogueira, Arona and Nastula. We have a lot of requests to fight from foreign fighters so I want to create a card from among them. As far as Japanese fighters go, I'd definitely like to see Sakuraba, Yoshida and Tamura. We will enter final negotiations from now.
P ride
: Is there a possibility of a jacket match between Yoshida and Nastula on New Year's Eve?
S akakibara
: Do you want to see that? I don't think that will be on New Year's Eve.
P ride
: You said that there will be a striking-only event.
S akakibara
: Nothing definite has been decided. We've just decided that we are going to do it. It will be an event with PRIDE'S values to decide the strongest striking fighter in the world. We will begin preparing from now so that we will be able to gather fighters that the media will respect. It will be autumn of next year at the earliest but you should probably expect it after autumn.